The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Blake Bortles with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and the original plan was to sit Bortles for the entirety of the 2014 regular season. In the current culture of the NFL where rookie quarterbacks are thrown into the fire and expected to produce right away, it was admirable to see general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley maintain such a staunch line about keeping Bortles on the bench.
Of course that only lasted 3 weeks, as veteran QB Chad Henne inspired no confidence in his first ten quarters of play. Bortles came in midway through a week 3 blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts and the rest is history.
Bortles did not have a wildly successful rookie campaign like fellow QBs Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, or even Andy Dalton. Coming into an offense littered with inexperienced skill players, Bortles was under fire most of the season. The result was 3 wins and the worst Total QBR in the entire NFL.
Matt Miller over at Bleacher Report takes the extra time in the offseason to undertake the herculean task of ranking basically every player in the NFL based on their performance in the previous season. He recently came out with his quarterbacks list and Bortles came in at 37 out of 50.
"The first quarterback off the board in the latest draft, Bortles wasn’t ready to truly compete in 2014. Given snaps against live bullets, the theory is that Bortles will progress quicker. But at this point, he’s a fringe starter at best, and that’s due to his skill set, not polish."
In the piece, Miller mentions Bortles’ mobility and ability to improvise as a plus, but he notes that Bortles needs to work quite a bit on both his mechanics and his decision making. The former has been a priority for Bortles this offseason, and the latter should improve with experience and reps.
The Jaguars need Bortles to be better than the 37th ranked quarterback for this team to take the next step. Luckily, all signs point to Bortles climbing quite quickly up those rankings.
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